Are you keen to set off on your next off-road adventure around the United States but need a ham radio to keep in contact with the other drivers out there? Or perhaps you are a beginner amateur radio enthusiast in search of the best mobile ham radios on the market?
Ham radios are useful for lots of different situations, be that single-band, dual-band, or even quad-band. Obviously, the frequency range will vary greatly – but what is right for you?
We have taken a range of mobile ham radios, considered the features, capability, and useability. Below you will find the results of our hard work, what we consider to be the best on the market for dual-band radios.
The Best Dual Band Mobile Ham Radios of 2021
This model from BaoFeng is the second generation in the UV-82 series and to date, the best. Compared to the first generation, it has slimmed down and is more attractive in appearance.
There is more to this second generation ham than just cosmetic touches.
A great new feature to this range of ham radios is that there are now 3 power output levels to choose from; low (1 watt), medium (5 watts), and high (7-8 watts).
The quality of the speaker is fantastic, it is loud and clear. When up against strong winds, hearing the communication should not be an issue.
One serious upgrade from the previous model is the transmitted signal and this is because the battery is supplying more power.
When it comes to the range with this radio, don’t be surprised if you find yourself communicating with people up to 50 miles away – this is on full output power.
Taking the output power to 1 watt will see your range go to 25 miles and you should not experience too much background noise.
There is a built-in LED flashlight which is pretty powerful. As well as an FM radio so you can listen to music on the move.
- Battery life is fantastic in this two-way radio
- The antenna provides quality signal strength
- Speaker quality is brilliant
- Sells out quickly
Ok, let’s address the elephant in the room, the Btech mobile UV-5×3. Yes, this is a tri-band radio, not a dual-band. So why does it make the grade?
It can be used as a dual-band so it qualifies. The BTech mobile UV is also bursting with features so most certainly worth considering.
The quality of the receiver is fantastic and the audio quality is equally fantastic, with communication being loud and clear.
This best mobile ham radio has an LCD display with 3 different choices of colors for extra flexibility. The color options are; purple, blue, and orange. The LCD display screen can be formatted in 3 different ways, this provides great customizability, and the ability to see the table of contents is enhanced.
A mobile ham radio that could be best in the show when it comes to 220MHZ frequency bands and the mobile radio transceiver world in general. With a few added extras, the BTech Mobile UV-5X3 is the kind of radio that could be the perfect addition to your communication methods.
- 3 color options on the LCD display
- Good frequency ranges
- Large battery and good power supply
- Quite a large handset
Having VHF/UHF is all good and when it comes to base stations, works really well. Using HF can provide more versatility and Icom realize this.
Though HF is usually quite an expensive option when compared to a VHF and UHF frequency bands radio transceiver. However, if you are considering an HF radio, then this Icom mobile ham radio could be the best option.
Very much a beginner option, which can be a good thing as it is actually very simple to use. This model of mobile ham radio isn’t lacking in features, nor does it have so many it is overly complex.
Icom has ensured that this single band mobile radio will see you through many adventures and years as it is very durable and ought to be reliable, making it one of the best mobile ham choices around.
- Simple to use single band that can do a lot of what UHF and VHF band can do.
- Good quality display
- Speakers are a little quiet
This ham radio is not only compact and mobile, but it is also relatively inexpensive and pretty feature-rich all things considered.
You get two radio bands transmitted with this mobile ham, both are amateur. UHF will get 20 watts and VHF gets 25 watts. This performance will transmit through concrete and other obstacles so regardless of obstruction, you will experience communication at its best.
Adding to the versatility and ease of installation, this mobile ham does not need to be hard-wired into your vehicle. Simple power it using the cigarette lighter outlet and that will be perfect!
You won’t get an antenna included with this radio however, don’t let that put you off as pair it with the right one and you will be able to communicate with others over 50 miles away.
If you are considering a ham radio to use off-road, this could be the one for you. It is constructed using durable materials and will be there when you need it.
Have no fear about putting this dual-band through its paces, it is designed to take many hours of use. Inside QYT have put in a cooling fan so after long periods of use, the radio will be able to cool down. This will prevent any overheating, leading to a slow down in the performance of the radio.
- Bands: VHF, UHF
- Frequency Ranges: 136–174 MHz, 400–480 MHz
- Channels: 200
- Transmission Power: Up to 25 watts
- Good sound quality
- Lots of features for little cost
- Need to purchase antenna separately
BaoFeng is a well-known name when it comes to single, dual, or quad-band mobile ham radios. A brand that is known to bring lots of features to the table but does so with a budget in mind.
The GT-3TP Mark III is the 3rd generation and has seen some positive upgrades and improvements.
In terms of power output on this dual-band ham radio, you get 3 options; 1w, 4w, and 8 watts. There is also an LCD screen and it has three different colors to choose from. For extra ease of use, this mobile ham radio comes with a backlit keyboard and a large battery.
It may not be the most important aspect when it comes to functionality but aesthetically, this mobile ham radio is very pleasing. With splashes of color, it really stands out from the other ranges.
Looks aside, the GT-3TP has a lot more features, including different UV-5R programming cables, this dual-band will work brilliantly with the latest CHIRP version too.
Though not waterproof, it is water-resistant and will survive some degree of extreme weather.
Not quite done with the features of this mobile ham radio, it also comes with a siren for emergency use. Those quiet times can be overcome with the built-in FM radio and for completeness, there is a flashlight.
The audio quality that you get from this mobile ham radio is great, alongside the watt power and build quality, it makes it one of the best available.
Touching back on the power output, it does genuinely produce the advertised 8w, for a radio in this price bracket, it is really quite impressive.
The battery is large and therefore you can expect this dual-band mobile ham to be with you throughout your day.
- The antenna is INF-641 works really well
- Great battery life
- Very functional
- The design style and thought
- Instruction manual
This is a high power (50w power output) dual-band piece of kit from Retevis. The high power runs at 50W VHF and UHF is 45W. The low power setting is set at 25W.
It is a very durable and well-built radio that feels really good in the hand and looks at home in any vehicle. To keep things easy to use, the microphone is backlit so can still be seen when in the dark.
When it comes to GPS, there are two different options. You can opt to have GPS or not -very simple. There are obvious upsides to having GPS on a ham radio but that may not be the best option for you.
A feature that gives rise to this being the best dual-band mobile ham radio is just how easy it is to use. The buttons are simple but can be programmed for different functions, so you can set it up just how you like it.
Fine-tuning different VHF UHF frequency range can be done with great accuracy and simplicity – which is exactly what is needed in a vehicle.
Overall the Retevis is designed to give you clear noise-free audio, plenty of calling options (single call, group call, and all call). This mobile ham also comes with a lone working mode and an emergency alarm. There are many other features built into this radio for you to explore!
- Extra-large number of memory channels – 100,000
- Programming software is included and is free
- Controls are very responsive
- High power and low power setting
- Time zone settings
- No remote head
The TYT TH-8600 is a mighty mobile ham radio from TYT. TYT manufactures some of the best mobile ham radios on sale today and that includes this TYT TH model.
It will give you 25 watts of power for VHF frequencies and 20 watts of radio transceiver power for the UHF frequency range.
Allowing for lots of flexibility, you get 200 programmable channels. You also get 4 function keys that can be programmed. This will simplify things and mean that your focus can be what is going on on the road.
With the TYT TH-8600, there is a quality LCD screen that is colored. However, what makes this a contender for the best mobile ham radio is that it is rated IP67. This means that it is waterproof and dustproof. Giving you total peace of mind that should you take it off-road and find it immersed in water, it’s going to be totally fine and live another day!
- IP67 waterproof and dustproof
- Good two-way communication quality
- Nice number of channels and channel mode editing settings are easy to navigate
- Cooling fan built-in
- May need to order as sells out quickly
Kenwood is a name that is known around the world. Very popular and one of the best brands of ham radios you can buy.
This mobile ham radio is well packed out with features, more than enough for most users. It is worth saying that despite the plethora of features, it is still incredibly easy to use and in terms of reliability, it is ace and will be there when you need it to be.
You will be able to use the radio at 440 MHZ frequency with a 2-meter range and this will be very reliable. Another great thing in terms of reliability is that you can use different power ranges (5, 10, and 50 watts).
If you are intending to use a radio in your car, this may be the best mobile ham radio for you. It comes with GPS information and the function to receive messages. This removes the need for lots of devices to be taking your mind away from the road.
With the Kenwood radio, you get an impressive 1000 memory channels. Obviously having this many memory channels can become difficult to organize and Kenwood realizes this. To ensure simplicity, the channels can be named using up to 6 alphanumeric characters.
- Can pick up weather alerts
- 1000 memory channels
- The display is incredibly easy to read
- The microphone is a little heavy
If you are in the market for an easy to use mobile ham radio with all the bells and whistles, then you can stop here.
On these models of mobile ham radios, you get a two-inch full-color TFT screen. As you can imagine this gives you the ability to see data at the drop of a hat. The screen is very bright (when you want it to be) and has a wide viewing angle.
A great feature of this product is the addition of Bluetooth so you can operate in a hands-free manner. As we have established this mobile radio is dual-band. You can actually monitor frequency ranges at the same time for A & B bands.
Packed into this dual-band mobile radio is a feature known as Group Monitor. What this allows the user to do is check with friends with the same ID, seeing if they are within the communication range.
A mobile ham radio billed as one of the best mobile ham radios out there has to have a high power output, right? Yes, it does and at 50W, this radio doesn’t disappoint.
- A large number of memory channels – 1104
- 3W audio speakers provide crisp audio output
- Comes supplied with a 10 ft programming cable
- Great base station features
- Limited availability
The VV-898 VHF/UHF mobile radio is a product brought onto the market by Leixen.
It features a power output of 10 watts and despite its tiny appearance, packs a bunch of features into a small package. In fact, given the size of the dual-band, it is up for debate about if it is either handheld radio or a mobile one. A debate not to be had here.
The VV-898 could be the best mobile ham radio for when space is an issue but you still want good performance.
With this mobile radio, it has 199 memory channels and when you want some music, there are 30 FM channels to go to.
The unit product itself is designed to take some tough love, it is rugged and definitely durable.
The quality of the receiver is great, and very clear as well as undistorted – even when at full volume. Should this not be ideal for you, there is a jack at the back of the radio to which you can connect a larger speaker.
When it comes to extra features, this dual-band radio has plenty of them! Some of the features are only found in commercial radios. Here are some of the main extra features:
- Talk Around
- Group Calling
- Wireless Frequency Changing
- Audio Scrambling
- Wireless Field Programming
- Really compact mobile ham radio
- Very lightweight
- Audio quality is excellent
- The programming cable is supplied
- The software would be recommended for programming but can be done without
Buyer’s Guide to Dual-Band Ham Radios
Ideally, you want to purchase a dual-band radio and not have to worry about whether it is durable enough for all your trips – it just should be and that’s why the build quality is important.
For those who are planning to install the ham radio into their vehicle then durability will not be too much of a concern. However, it is still something you may wish to factor in.
This is especially the case if adventure driving is your thing as even the best ham radio will be put to the test against that sort of terrain and vibrations. When this is the case it is best to go for a radio that is designed and marketed as being robust, rather than one with features you may never use.
If you are considering a mobile ham radio that is to be used on the move then opt for something lightweight and easy to hold.
A good starting point when it comes to power output would be 25 watts. Having said that, higher power output is considered to be the best.
Around 40 or 50 watts will see that your radio is a powerful one and you ought to be able to communicate well and clearly as a result, through a good range of frequencies including VHF.
Having said that, running at full power output isn’t what you necessarily always want to do, as your conversations may reach those it is not intended to reach.
Communication via radio is done so over frequencies. Different bands are multiple frequencies in a collection. The strength of the frequency will impact the range of communication.
When the frequency is not strong, communication will also be weak. The best frequency will cover a wider range.
In an ideal world, amateur radio will be either single-band or dual-band. From this, it will either be running on VHF, UHF, or HF.
Dual-band radios tend to start at 144 MHZ of power and operate on wavelengths of 2-meters.
An antenna is vital when determining the performance of a radio. If the area you find yourself in has a weak signal then an antenna can make the difference.
It is always advisable to check the strength of your antenna as the quality of VHF and other communication can be impacted by poor signals.
What are Ham Radios?
“Ham” are amateur radio users. This means that any radio that is not commercial is considered to be a ham radio.
Ham radio is a radio somewhere in between a handheld amateur radio and amateur radio stations.
Dual-band ham radio will commonly have a UHF and VHF frequency range, quad-band has twice as many.
What are Ham Radios used for?
People who need to communicate quickly and often, who are around vehicles are big users of radios and they’ve got to be the best mobile ham ideally.
Where there is no cellular network, a dual-band mobile ham radio will come to your rescue. Also, if any communication needs to be transmitted down a line, this can be done using mobile ham radios. They can take a transmission they have received and send it to others down the line.
If you’re an off-roader, a frequent adventurer who is partial to getting lost, or need an easy way to communicate on the road then a mobile ham radio could be ideal for you.
What is the best dual-band mobile antenna?
If you already own a dual-band ham radio, you might find yourself wanting to boost its range by adding an antenna – perhaps even to the roof of your truck or car.
Honestly, go for a band radio that is easy to setup. Going down this route will usually mean that it is also simple to program, maintain, and will be durable.
Consider models that don’t need any tuning. This will make your life more simple.
Ensure that any antenna you mount onto the roof of your vehicle is tough – failing to do this can result in losing them to trees or other obstructions.